If the practice is equipped from an infection control perspective and the GP feels comfortable in collecting the specimen:
- Specimen collection for COVID-19 can be performed in community settings for patients with mild to moderate symptoms. Patients with severe symptoms (eg. dyspnoea or frequent, severe or productive coughing episodes) should be referred to hospital for specimen collection using contact and airborne precautions, ideally in a negative pressure room.
- Use standard, contact and droplet transmission precautions, including a surgical mask, long-sleeved gown, gloves, protective eyewear.
- Recommended specimens are:
- Two combined nose and throat viral swabs, or nasopharyngeal viral swabs.
- Lower respiratory specimen (sputum) if obtainable.
- Request COVID-19 testing and screen for routine respiratory pathogens. Ensure the patient’s travel history, symptoms and date of onset of symptoms is noted on the laboratory request form.
- As for all other pathology test requests, you are responsible for informing the patient about their test results.
- Standard environmental cleaning of the room needs to be performed after seeing the patient. If the patient coughs while the sample is being taken the room should be cleaned and not used for patient consultation for at least 30 minutes. Click here to learn more.
If appropriate PPE is not available at your practice, private pathology providers can collect a sample provided the GP calls ahead, and the patient is able to get to the facility without public transport. Click here to access locations and contact details for dedicated coronavirus private testing collection centres.
Patients who are being tested in an outpatient setting need self-isolation while awaiting results. Provide them with a face mask and a fact sheet on home isolation.
If neither of these are options, and/or the patient has significant illness, they should be referred to the Emergency Department with prior notification to the FACEM on call.